WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen announced her request to support two projects to increase the width and depth of sections of Portsmouth Harbor have been approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Shaheen secured $500,000 for maintenance dredging of a section of the harbor known as Simplex Shoal, as well as $150,000 for the design phase of a project to increase the width of the harbor's upper turning basin.
Both projects will ensure continued access to the harbor for the large ships local businesses depend on to carry cargo and sustain commerce. These funds were included in the Fiscal Year 2011 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill, which is now ready for consideration by the full Senate.
"Portsmouth Harbor supports millions of dollars of economic activity in the Seacoast and across New Hampshire, and we have a responsibility to ensure its proper maintenance and upkeep," said Shaheen. "These two projects will support continued and unimpeded transit on the river, allowing for the commerce that brings jobs and investment to New Hampshire families and communities."
"These projects would positively impact navigation by ensuring the commercial and recreational uses of our waterways while protecting the public and environment through safe navigation," said Geno Marconi, Director of Ports and Harbor for the Pease Development Authority. "I would like to thank Senator Shaheen for her recognition of the importance of these navigation projects and for her sponsorship of them."
Portsmouth Harbor, which supports five million tons of cargo annually, is typically "self-maintaining" with the exception of a small section known as the Simplex Shoal that requires maintenance dredging every seven to nine years. Failure to dredge the Simplex Shoal would likely result in draft restrictions being placed on the channel to ensure that vessels are able to safely navigate the shoal and limit the overage tonnage of cargo that the vessels transiting the river could carry.
The upper turning basin in Portsmouth Harbor is where commercial ships turn around to head back out to sea after dropping off their cargo. Funding for the project will support the initial work to increase the width of the basin from 850 feet to at least 1,000 feet, making it accessible to larger vessels.
Widening the turning basin is anticipated to have significant economic benefits for the state of New Hampshire. The Pease Development Authority Division of Ports and Harbors has also committed $375,000 to fund the feasibility study.